The news from today in Lancaster Co., Pa., has to do with how carefully-planned the attack was. And all any of us can think about is how sad it makes us... how our hearts go out to the good people who sent their children to that school.
Tonight we'll talk about what to tell the kids. We'll investigate how it is a member of society can lead a "normal" life one day and become a violent killer the next. We'll have complete coverage of the story -- along with the spreading page scandal on the Hill and the pressure on the Speaker of the House that intensified today. We will take note of the fact that the Dow closed at a new record high today (with some help from our friends at CNBC, for whom this is a big day at the office). Also tonight, David Gregory reports as part of our "Homefront" series on the increasing number of women who are fighting and dying in this nation's wars.
In today's post, I'd like to address some of the superb and well thought-out e-mails I've received here over the last 24 hours.
An e-mailer from Boston writes: "Leave the Amish be." Normally, I would completely agree with that statement. They never hurt anyone. It is their desire to live a quiet life away from outside influences. It is our job to cover this story for a large audience of viewers. As I said at the top of last night's broadcast, however, yesterday, an awful part of our modern American society visited THEM. We can't change the fact that what happened in that one-room schoolhouse is news. It's a story we must cover, and many are interested in the details. I hope that the swelling number of media converging on that town have the class and good sense to do their jobs while keeping a respectful distance and maintaining a professional and courteous demeanor. The Amish are a private people, and they have their own ways to handle life's exigencies and tragedies. Our charge is to find the right balance between covering a story and intruding on a way of life.
To all those who have written to express their fears about "what our world is coming to..." or their fears about the safety of our children: I'm with you, and I have the same concerns. I fear there was nothing that could have stopped this man in Pennsylvania -- random and horrible crimes are like that. I fear as well for the irrational fears that some children will now have about their safety at school. As parents, we just have to do the best we can at conveying the message that our children are loved, and that the adults in their lives will do their best to ensure their safety.
To "Missy," from Slidell, La., I mourn with you on several fronts: for what happened to your community, for your friend who lost her son, and in our mutual sadness over this event in Amish country. One fact that emerged from yesterday: their township has no police force, because they had no crime. Until yesterday. The State Police response time of nine minutes was amazing, given the ground they must patrol in that part of Pennsylvania.
To the e-mailer who wrote about reporter accountability: I might ask Lisa Myers or other members of our Investigative Unit to take on that topic, as that is a concern with so many of the stories they file. The answer is not as easy as tossing around "the First Amendment" and it's often a complicated equation.
To the e-mailer who wrote me about Neil Armstrong: good for you for knowing and mentioning the famous urban myth, "Good Luck, Mr. Gorsky." While I agree with you that we should leave it to others to research (it's decidedly not family material), I was actually at a dinner once here in New York, seated alongside Mr. Armstrong (one of the high points of my life, actually), when someone brought up the subject. As I recall, he laughed it off while seeming to enjoy the sport of it. He is an enormously private man... as modest as anyone I've ever met. In this era of super-celebrity, where the media hang on each of Terrell Owens' statements, it is remarkable that this man with such a huge role in our history has never once capitalized on who he is or what he achieved. He was the hero of my younger years and remains one of my heroes today.
While we're on the topic of genuine American heroes: I attended a board meeting of the Congressional Medal of Honor Foundation over the weekend in Boston. In the coming months, I will unabashedly use this space to draw attention to these 111 men who are recipients of our nation's highest military honor. I was honored to be in the presence of 61 of them this past weekend. If you ever truly want to feel inferior to others in terms of service, character or bravery, I suggest attending one of their gatherings. After I called the roll of the 61 recipients who were present, the sustained applause that followed was the longest I have ever witnessed, anywhere. I couldn't avoid making the observation that the last time that large a group of brave men assembled in New England, the Continental Army was formed.
We hope you can join us for tonight's broadcast.